As some of you may know, I have been exceptionally busy this summer with a wedding in less than 6 weeks. But I was able to get away for a little bit thanks to work and see some of the West Coast. I’d have to say that San Francisco is even more beautiful than I could have imagined. If I was going to move to the West Coast, it would be at the top of the list of destinations!
The hills were all that they were chalked up to be. I packed Moleskine and thick socks, which were not exactly fashionable but saved my feet. I was really impressed and inspired by the landscape and flora. It must have a very similar climate to the northern Italian coast. I saw Bougainvillea, succulents, and honeysuckle. The Presidio was one of the strangest places I’ve ever seen. It seemed like a Disney-fied version of a military base, which I suppose it is.
Fisherman’s Wharf was foggy when I stopped by but I was able to see a few sea lions. I instead spent more time in the Embarcadero, a magical tunnel of all the food you could ever want to eat. I was able to pick up some amazing dried beans and Rancho Gordo and a bite of cheese at Cowgirl Creamery. I could have spent hours in the Ferry Plaza market outside! Unlike the indoor stores, the outdoor stalls are only available on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Sometimes your weekend needs little nudge into awesomeness. Just like sometimes I need a little nudge to publish something (sorry about that). This is an excellent nudge and I knew I couldn’t not share it with you. Sausage and gravy is one of my favorite things to order at old country diners. You know the kind, preferably with a cow painted on everything.
Apparently Bobby Flay’s wife loves it too. Lucky lady. Thus far, if I want biscuits and gravy, I have to make them. But maybe that will change. For now I remain the biscuit champion in our little world!
This month’s book may be late but it is well worth your attention. Therese Anne Fowler has written a novel on Zelda Fitzgerald. It covers shortly before her 18th birthday to F. Scott’s death in 1940 and slightly beyond.
It details their wartime courtship, quiet New York City wedding, and subsequent move to Long Island, whose lavish parties and extravagant lifestyle inspired Great Gatsby. In a search for quiet life, the couple moved to Paris where Scott became involved with a new set including Hemingway. It provides another side to the Hemingway/Fitzgerald friendship which has made me rethink Hemingway as an author. I knew there was a reason for his macho-man persona!
Zelda’s mental problems naturally make up a part of the storyline. Frankly, they seem as much Scott’s problem as anything which is wrong with her. True, she is feisty and a little wild, but she is nothing compared to today’s socialites and reality TV stars. I couldn’t help but wonder if she would have been happier if she lived nowadays, without Scott’s constant desire to provide for her and to prevent her from excelling in anything she would like to do.
Zelda’s writing was published under Scott’s name, her ballet career was halted, and her painting restricted, at least in the story. I don’t know how accurate a text it is, but I don’t really care. I found the book enthralling and really beautiful. So often the picture that we have a Zelda Fitzgerald is a partial one. Hemingway’s vicious characterization in A Moveable Feast. Scott’s skewed portrait in Tender is the Night. The wild and lost Zelda of the film Midnight in Paris.
Finally, Zelda is given her own voice. And, boy, does she have a story to tell.
This month’s book: Z by Therese Anne Fowler
The holidays call for elegant food. However, the rich stuff you normally eat doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. So how about this for a change: white pumpkin chestnut soup. It’s a great January soup, really. No cream or fat really, aside from a tiny bit of olive oil. It is complex in flavors and very pretty!
The original recipe calls for cooking the fresh pumpkin chunks in the broth and then pureeing and seasoning everything. However, I tend to make an afternoon of roasting, pureeing, and freezing fresh pumpkins in the fall/winter. Especially when I have been given pretty white pumpkins! Standard orange sugar pumpkins will also work. The most important thing is not to use canned pumpkin. It will be too thick and is most likely already sweetened.
White Pumpkin Soup with Roasted Chestnuts
Adapted from Manger
1 large onion, small dice
4 c chicken broth
1 large pumpkin, roasted and pureed
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
20-25 roasted chestnuts, broken into 4 to 6 pieces
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add chicken broth and pumpkin puree to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Add seasonings to taste. Serve with 3-4 chestnuts sprinkled over the top.
I missed posting this for Christmas by a lot. But in my defense, I didn’t decide to make it until Christmas morning after the roast had gone into the oven.However, as it has fruit in it, I am deeming it a “healthy dessert.”
I love a British Christmas. It just seems so ideal to me: Charles Dickens, a roaring fire, steamed pudding, the Queen’s speech, Christmas crackers. Since it was going to be a fairly small celebration at my parents’ house, I decided create something different and special. Standing rib roast, check. Yorkshire pudding, check. Sticky toffee pudding, full of dates and sugar-y goodness, oops.
We had no dates. Continue reading